Rob Freshwater’s passionate home brewing turned professional in 1995 at what was then the Hahn Brewery (now the Malt Shovel Brewery), so you could say he has been with James Squire brewing since the very first batch! Fast forward to present day, and Rob is now Senior Brewer (although he believes this title may be attributed to his grey hair or the lack thereof!)
We took five with him in the hopes that he could impart some of his brewing wisdom upon us…
TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE BREWING PROCESS – WHAT DOES IT ACTUALLY ENTAIL?
Essentially, beer is the end fermented product of sugars that are extracted from cereal crops such as (mainly) barley but also wheat and other adjuncts. The resultant alcohol and unfermented malt body are ‘balanced’ with the use of hops for bitterness and other flavour characteristics.
Barley grains (seeds) are malted (germinated then kilned); this malt is then milled and mixed with water to produce a porridge-like mash. A sugary solution (called wort) is extracted from this and boiled with hops. This wort is then cooled and fermented by a selected yeast strain and then we have…beer!
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE PROCESS?
Beer appreciation- the taste of the final product! Quality control is crucial to success. There is a lot of satisfaction in tasting one’s efforts as well as a sense of pride in seeing others enjoy the same!
IN YOUR EYES, WHAT SETS THE CHARMING SQUIRE APART FROM THE PACK?
The Charming Squire is most unique for giving Brisbane the opportunity to get intimately acquainted with the brewing process, and learn what goes into making a good craft beer. The Charming Squire brings to life the story of the original charming rogue, James Squire. With a venue design that evokes a sense of history and storytelling, an inspired menu and the full range of James Squire craft beers and ciders on tap, The Charming Squire is the sort of bar James himself would have loved to drink in.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE THINKING OF DABBLING IN HOME BREWING, WHAT ARE THE COMMON MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE?
Own palate bias – brewers tend to focus in making a beer or beer style that meets their personal taste. Sure all brewers (like all chefs) brew to their experienced taste buds appreciation, but sometimes this can be at the expense of appeal to their consumers – the hoppiest/ most bitter pale ale for example. Drinkability still has to be paramount in achieving success! Best practise is to always have one’s brews professionally assessed by others.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT BEER?
Lack of technical faults, the right balance of beer attributes – interestingly different and still approachable with relatively high drinkability.
WHAT IS YOUR ‘SIGNATURE’ BREW?
From earlier home brewing days I used to be known/recognised for my Porters and Stouts – the James Squire Porter for example has won a number of medals as various beer comps. These days the flavour trend is towards the hoppier ales such as American Style Pale Ales and IPAs. The First Fleet at The Charming is along these lines.